Faculty FAQs: Retention & Exit Survey

If you have been invited to participate in COACHE's Faculty Retention & Exit Survey, then these questions and answers apply to you.

BACKGROUND

(1) What is The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE)?

COACHE is a collaboration of colleges and universities committed to gathering the peer diagnostic and comparative data academic administrators need to recruit, retain, and develop faculty members, who are critical to the long-term future of their institutions. The core element of COACHE is an electronic survey specially designed for full-time faculty like you to provide information about your experience at your institution. COACHE has conducted the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey for over 10 years. Then in 2015-16, we partnered with the University of California to develop and pilot the Faculty Exit and Retention Survey. In 2016-17, more research universities were invited to join this project so that they may better understand the process by which faculty who receive external offers decide to leave or stay.

(2) What is the purpose of the Faculty Exit and Retention Survey?

We have two aims:

(a)    to standardize, as much as possible across many institutions, the data collected and stored about faculty upon their departure, and
(b)   to understand the causes, costs, and patterns of faculty mobility.

The symbiosis of these goals makes their fulfillment a natural candidate for a research-practice partnership – one that will continue to accrue data and insight for many years to come.

(3) What do we wish to learn?

Academic administrators mentioned the following outcomes as those that would lead them to day, at the end of a period of data collection, “That was worth it.” They are listed here by increasing degree of the time and resources required to achieve:

  • An improved, validated survey instrument to replace current or past protocols
  • An accurate understanding of the reasons why faculty choose to leave
  • An accurate understanding of the reasons why faculty who receive outside offers choose to stay
  • A clearer understanding of how to succeed at retention actions
  • A clearer understanding of how to prevent retention cases in the first place

 

REASONS TO PARTICIPATE

(4) Why should I complete the COACHE Faculty Exit and Retention Survey?

Simply stated, administrative and faculty leaders need to know about your experiences in order to improve their retention efforts. Learning from your unique experiences will be essential to understanding the reasons faculty choose to stay at or leave their universities. There is great interest in your survey responses for two reasons. First, your institution contributed funding to participate in the survey. This means there are high-level leaders who want to learn from the results. Your answers to the questions in the survey will pinpoint areas in the retention process that need immediate attention at your institution (or former institution). Second, a high response rate will help campuses make meaningful inferences from the data and help COACHE make improvements to the survey for future administrations.

(5) Are you surveying my institution (or former institution) only?

Six University of California campuses participated in the pilot administration. COACHE anticipates that campuses beyond the University of California system will participate in future administrations and strengthen comparisons to peer institutions. By 2017, the number of universities involved this project had doubled.

(6) How did you get my name?

Participating campuses provided COACHE with a data file that included the names and email addresses of all faculty members that fulfill our participation criteria. For this survey, participating institutions selected full-time faculty who were involved in either a retention or a separation action in the previous academic year.

(7) I get surveyed all the time. How is this survey different?

This is a unique survey that compares the experiences of faculty who accepted positions at other institutions and those who had an opportunity to leave, but decided to remain in their positions. Such a comparison will help participating institutions understand why some faculty choose to leave and others choose to stay. This information will inform their efforts to retain faculty and improve the overall working environment. This survey will also allow participating institutions to make comparisons between their results and the results of other similar universities. 

(8) Why don't you ask someone else?

As a faculty member who recently decided to stay or leave a university, your experience is unique and essential to our understanding of faculty mobility. It is important that all eligible faculty members invited to participate go on to complete the survey. Your numbers are relatively few; to have confidence in the results, COACHE and your university are counting on as many eligible faculty members as possible to participate. Each response does make a difference in the survey results.

SURVEY ADMINISTRATION

(9) Is there a way I can take the survey in printed form or over the phone?

If you would like to take the survey a paper version of the survey or complete it over the phone, please email COACHE (coache_exit@gse.harvard.edu) with your name and the university with which you are/were affiliated.

To find out which institutional representative is familiar with COACHE’s research at your campus, click here and email us a request for the name of the responsible official.

If you have a disability which prevents you from completing the survey online, please contact the COACHE Team at coache_exit@gse.harvard.edu. Someone from our team will follow up to determine if accommodations can be made to suit your needs.

(10) How long will the survey take?

We anticipate that the survey will take less than 25 minutes to complete, though survey duration varies depending on your exit/retention experience.

 

(11) How long will I have access to the survey?

It is best if you start and complete the survey as soon as you receive your invitation. However, you will have access until the survey closes on April 10th.

 

(12) I had to stop in the middle of completing my survey. Do I have to restart the survey all over again?

You do not need to start the survey all over again. If you choose to suspend the survey to take a break, if your computer shuts down, or if you lose your Internet connection, you will be able to resume where you left off.

Simply log back in using the link you received in the email we sent you. Please be sure to complete your survey before the deadline listed above. After the close date, you will no longer have access to the survey.

 

(13) I am having trouble opening the survey link. What should I do?

If clicking directly on the survey link in your email does not open the survey for you, you may find it easiest to simply copy and paste the link into the address bar of your web browser and then hit the "Enter" key on your keyboard.

Sometimes, problems may be caused by your browser's pop-up blocker. To temporarily disable your pop-up blocker, hold down the CTRL button as you click the link that begins the survey. If you are using a third-party pop-up blocker, such as Google Toolbar, you will have to temporarily disable that, too.

If technical errors persist, please contact COACHE by email (coache_exit@gse.harvard.edu) with a description of your problem.

 

(14) I am worried about my answers not being anonymous. Can my identity be determined in any way?

Anonymity is assured in all COACHE analyses and reports. Your names and email addresses are retained solely for the sake of COACHE research, including reminding respondents to begin or to complete their survey and for limited and IRB-approved follow-up studies. When we submit the survey report to your institution (or former institution), only the aggregate findings are shown in the report. No identifiers are matched to reported responses, and no disaggregated data will be presented for any subgroup with fewer than five respondents. In addition, some representatives of your institution may have applied for and been approved to receive limited access to a de-identified, redacted data file containing the survey results. These individuals, referred to as “honest brokers,” have signed a statement of confidentiality legally obliging them not to share the data—only aggregate reports, with no cells smaller than five respondents—with anyone in a position to make or influence personnel decisions about individual subjects. They have also received certification for completing human subjects protection training. If you wish to receive further information about the representative assuming responsibility for the data at your institution--or to learn if your university has waived receipt of such data--click here to send an email message to COACHE.

Please note that at the end of the survey, we may ask to retain your contact information for further studies. If you allow us to keep your contact information on file, COACHE will strictly protect the privacy and confidentiality of your personal information. The future studies would not be used for individual campus analysis and no one at your campus will be notified of your participation in future studies.

 

DATA REPORTING

 

(15) What will you do with the data?

The information from this survey will be used in several ways. First, your answers will be combined with those of others who recently decided to stay at or leave their university. Those data will be analyzed and summarized in the aggregate. COACHE will generate a survey report that provides a compilation of all findings from your institution and other participating campuses. Participating campuses will receive summary reports of the results for their campuses. Differences by key demographic and professional variables are also highlighted—but only when sample sizes allow for it. This is extremely valuable information because most institutions need reliable data about what motivates faculty members to stay at or leave their institutions. With this information, it is possible for academic administrators at both the system and campus levels to improve the faculty work environment and efforts to retain faculty.

(16) What will the sponsoring institution do with the data?

The institutions with whom we are working will use the information we report from this survey in different ways. Campus leaders may share the results in summary form with board members, academic administrators, faculty groups and other stakeholders whose work can be improved by a better understanding of faculty mobility and retention. Some institutions will analyze information from the survey report and use it in their long range institutional planning.

Many examples of the utility of exit data emerged in our interviews with senior academic administrators at institutions already conducting this work and at those seeking to mount such an effort. Ways in which knowledge from analyses of faculty departures has helped or could help include but are not limited to:

  • Suggesting improvements to chair training and development in the handling of faculty intent to leave;
  • Revealing whether or not universities are effectively carrying out their missions;
  • Identifying quickly any resignation patterns with respect to disciplinary cultures, gender, and URM status; and
  • Offering poignant qualitative component – backed by sound research – in support of budget allocations to retain faculty. 

(17) Will individual respondents be apprised of the results of the survey, and if so, when and how?

The results will be compiled in a series of reports to be released within six months after the close of the survey. The COACHE aggregate reports will be shared broadly; campus-level summary reports will be directed to the sponsoring institutions’ leadership.

(18) Is research data stored securely? What data will be destroyed at the end of the study?

Your name and email address is retained only for the sake of COACHE research, including reminding respondents to begin or to complete their survey and for limited and IRB-approved follow-up studies. COACHE will never further disseminate your contact information. Otherwise, at the conclusion of the survey, we remove any links between the address and its associated responses.

For two reasons, the research data itself will be stored beyond the conclusion of the study on the secure servers of COACHE or of an approved technology subcontractor. First, storing such data allows the principal investigators on this study to conduct cross-institutional analysis, thereby allowing better perspective/analysis to participating institutions. This research data will be used (in an anonymous or otherwise "safe" manner) in publications and presentations.  Second, and more importantly, storing this data will form a baseline for future administrations of the Faculty Retention and Exit Survey, a factor of significant value to participating institutions.